The Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean Literature provides a comprehensive overview of a Korean literary tradition, which is understood as a multifaceted nexus of practices, both homegrown and transnational.

The handbook discusses the perspectives from which modern Korean literature has thus far been defined, analyzing which voices have been enunciated, underappreciated, or completely silenced and how we can enrich our understanding of it. Taking up diverse transnational and interdisciplinary standpoints, this volume aims to encourage readers not to treat modern Korean literature as a self-evident category but to examine it anew as an uncultivated and uncharted space, unearthing its internal chasms and global connections. Divided into five parts, the themes covered include the following:

  • Literature and power
  • Borders and boundaries
  • Rationality in literature and its limits
  • Language, ethnicity, and translation
  • Korean literature in the changing mediascape.

By introducing new conceptual paradigms to the field of modern Korean literature, this book will appeal to students and scholars of Korean, East Asian, and world literature alike.

chapter |11 pages


part 1|71 pages

The power of literature/ the literature of power

chapter 1|12 pages

Art as freedom and power

Kim Tongin and the political legacy of pure literature in modern Korea

chapter 3|17 pages

The colonial frontier

Primitive accumulation, migration, and settler colonialism in Kando literature

chapter 4|12 pages

Decolonizing the future

Postcolonial themes in South Korean science fiction

chapter 5|16 pages

The mad father in the attic

Torture and the ethics of accountability in post-authoritarian Korean fiction

part 2|83 pages

Crossing borders, redrawing boundaries

chapter 6|18 pages

In the shadow of nation and empire

Northwestern writers in colonial Seoul

chapter 7|11 pages

Border crossings between decolonization and the Cold War

Rethinking post-Liberation literature, 1945–50

chapter 8|12 pages

Fracturing literary boundaries

Connecting with the Korean Peninsula in postwar Japan

chapter 9|15 pages

Crossing the great divide

Mid-century modernism on the Korean Peninsula

chapter 10|13 pages

Division literature and visions for de-bordering

Ch’oe Inhun, Pak Wansŏ, and individuals without belonging

part 3|44 pages

Rationality in Korean literature and its limits

part 4|59 pages

Transnational archives

chapter 15|10 pages

The figure of the translator

Kim Saryang between Korean and Japanese literatures

chapter 17|16 pages

Interracial romance, unlawful marriage

Transpacific encounters in early Korean American literature

chapter 18|17 pages

Autobiography of others

Dictée’s counterhegemonic feminism

part 5|49 pages

Korean literature in the changing mediascape

chapter 20|15 pages

Make noise, not war

Television in Yusin-era literature

chapter 21|15 pages

Radicalizing against polarities

Poetry and print culture in 1980s literary topography